UK team devises life-saving breathing aid for the NHS in 100 hours

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A breathing aid that can help keep Covid-19 patients out of intensive care, adapted by mechanical engineers at University College London and clinicians at UCLH working with Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains, has been approved for use in the UK’s National Health Service.

The breathing aid, known as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), has been used extensively in hospitals in Italy and China to help Covid-19 patients with serious lung infections to breathe more easily, when oxygen alone is insufficient. A significant component of the device is an optical oxygen monitor developed in just five days by UK manufacturer Oxford Optronix.

Reports from Italy indicate that approximately 50% of patients given CPAP have avoided the need for invasive mechanical ventilation. However, such devices are in short supply in UK hospitals. UCLH critical care consultant Professor Mervyn Singer said, “These devices will help to save lives by ensuring that ventilators, a limited resource, are used only for the most severely ill. While they will be tested at UCLH first, we hope they will make a real difference to hospitals across the UK by reducing demand on intensive care staff and beds, as well as helping patients recover without the need for more invasive ventilation.”